7 ways to cruise the Nestaweya River Trail in Winnipeg

Posted January 14, 2023 | Author Jillian Recksiedler

Winnipeg earns its nickname 'Winterpeg' each January when The Forks officially opens the Nestaweya (Ness-ta-way-ah) River Trail, a spectacular winter attraction found nowhere else in Canada. This winter icon welcomes tens of thousands of visitors between the months of January and March to cruise down the ice. More than ever, there are creative and exhilarating ways to get your work out and giggles in while viewing the city from the rivers.

Glide in style on ice bikes

Ice bikes are a bike-ski contraption that allow explorers of all abilities to hit the ice with added stability. Located in a new rental hut right on the river trail at The Forks main pier, Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures has a fleet of really sleek, modern ice cruisers. Another fleet of low-riding ice trikes (with double back blades) appeal more to the young a heart. Kendrick's has an amazing online booking site so you can book your equipment ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Kick sled cardio

Kick sleds are finally becoming the norm in Canadian winters (they've long been a mode of winter transportation in Nordic countries). Cruise the entire length of Nestaweya with a quick kick, or 'spark', of your foot to propel you forward. After a few motions, your thighs burn and your heart beats fast. For folks with little ones, take them along for a ride thanks to the seat built in front. Kick sleds are also a wonderful way to get the elderly or those with mobility issues outdoors. Located at The Forks in the vintage train car (former Candy Mountain location), outdoor rec non-profit Plain Bicycles rents a gorgeous selection of kick sleds, including very traditional wood models brought in all the way from Finland and Sweden.

Kids' critter cruisers

Meet Betty the beluga, Bobby the seal, Buddy the dog, and Tommy the reindeer. These adorable skate assists are a friendly way to get little ones comfortable on skates. Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures rents these characters from their pop up hut along the river trail at The Forks. While it's easiest for new skaters to start on the rink under the canopy, you can take the characters all the way down Nestaweya, too. Good news: if the kids get too tired, there is a built-in seat, leaving moms and dads to do all the legwork.

Take a fat bike for a spin

Fat bikes are right at home in Manitoba's extreme winter because the wide, grippy tires make traversing over snow and ice a breeze. There is no quicker way to see the entire 6+ kilometres of Nestaweya, and other land trails around The Forks, than by fat bike. Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures rents both adult and youth sizes of fat bikes, and even offers guided night rides tours around the downtown.

Cross-country ski on the beaten path

Cross-country skiing has never been more popular - and accessible - than during these last two winters of the pandemic. At The Forks, Plain Bicycles, located in the vintage train car in the parking lot, runs a community-driven 'ski shack' that allows anyone to access a pair of boots, skis and poles by donation. It allows athletes of all levels to access the popular winter sport, without the costly barrier of having to own the equipment. There are groomed classic ski trails in all directions along Nestaweya.

Snowshoe off the beaten path

While the walking trail portion of Nestaweya is likely too packed to warrant snowshoes, detour off course a bit to explore the thick blanket of untouched snow on the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures has a convenient location for snowshoe rentals at The Forks Market, where you can warm up on cinnamon buns and coffee after your adventure.

Lace up a pair of skates

Two people skating on the Red River Mutual Trail at The Forks.

Remember the days when ice skating was the only fun way to get down the river trail at The Forks? Well, Canada's favourite pastime is still an option thanks to Iceland Skate Rentals inside The Forks Market that rents hockey and figure skates in all sizes. Maybe you're already a seasoned ice skater looking for a new challenge? Nearby Plain Bicycles in the vintage train car in The Forks parking lot rents Nordic skates, elongated steel blades that are attached to cross-country ski boots so you can zip down Nestaweya at top speed.

There are many creative and accessible ways to get outdoors and exercise during winter on the Nestaweya River Trail at The Forks in Winnipeg. Try a new activity every weekend or visit with a group of friends and allow everyone to choose their own adventure.

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jillian, a marketer, communicator, traveller and Manitoba flag waver. Growing up in rural Manitoba during the '80s means I have a penchant for daytrips, maps (the paper kind), and prairie sunsets. I never tire of sharing stories about my home.

Senior Content Specialist